Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Weekend RunDisney Trip

I wanted to go ahead and talk a little bit about our trip to Disney World for the Star Wars Dark Side race since my race recap just talked about the race itself.  When we planned this trip, we knew the main purpose was the race itself and the rest of the trip would just be a whirlwind.  We weren't even sure if we would have any park time at all.

The way it worked out, we took the first flight to Orlando Saturday morning and took the last flight back on Monday.  This meant maximizing our time with only having to take one day off work and only having to pay for two hotel nights.  The race was Sunday morning, so right in the middle of our time in Orlando.


We stayed at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort.  This is part of their time share, Disney Vacation Club.  We were able to rent points to stay there from an online broker, which is a bit more cost effective then booking it as a hotel room directly with Disney.  This worked out really well for us but you have to read the fine print going in.  There is no cancelling so you have to be pretty sure of your dates. But we knew our dates were set because of the race and we knew we wanted to stay onsite given how short our trip was going to be.

We really liked the resort.  It's beautiful and felt really peaceful.  It's across the river from Disney Springs so you can walk there (a long walk depending on where your room is) or you can take a quick boat ride.  It's really spread out but we lucked out with a pretty good room so things weren't too long of a walk.  It also seems to be pretty well organized with bus stops, pools, and food outlets throughout the resort so it shouldn't be too long a walk from anywhere.  It also has a golf course on site in case that's a bonus for anyone.  I know my dad and brother would have loved it for that!

The other handy perk of staying at a Disney resort for a quick trip is the Magical Express from the airport.  Once we landed, we were able to walk down to the Disney bus location and get in line for a bus.  We didn't even have to pick up our bags from the carousel, Disney picked them up and delivered them to our room later.  That can take a couple hours so make sure you have everything you need right away with you.

 
View of Disney Springs during the sunset

Once we got to the hotel, we checked in but our room wasn't ready yet.  So we checked our carry-on bags and walked over to the bus stop to go to the expo.  Another perk of staying onsite is that they have bus transportation to all the race events.  When we got to the bus stop, the employee working there mentioned that the buses had been a bit messed up that morning and it could be a long wait.  We were contemplating calling a Lyft when the employee said wait, there's the bus right there!  So we got lucky with hardly a wait at all.  The bus took us right to the expo and in we went.

The lines weren't too bad at all.  I think that's probably because it was around 11am on the last day of the expo so a lot of people had already been through.  I was surprised at how crowded it was still, but I didn't have to wait too long in line for anything.  I ended up buying an extra Star Wars shirt, a Yoda headband, and a mini body glide I could carry in my flip belt, which I was really happy for on race day!

 

After wandering around for about an hour, we were pretty hungry.  We hadn't got a text saying that our room was ready yet so we decided to just get in a taxi to go to Disney Springs for lunch instead of taking a bus back to our hotel.  It was a quick ride and we headed straight to a restaurant Mike wanted to try, the Polite Pig.  It's a barbecue place which might be a weird choice for a vegetarian.  But they had a lot of vegetarian sides that ended up being delicious, so I was happy to go along with the choice :)  I had mac and cheese, brussel sprouts, a broccoli salad, and we shared sweet potato tots.

 
Fun RunDisney banners all over Disney Springs

We wandered around and checked out some stores, and then decided to walk back to the hotel since we had gotten us the text telling us where our room was.  This was a mistake since I wanted to stay off my feet for the race the next day.  It ended up being a long walk, and it took us around 30 minutes to get back to the lobby to pick up our carry-on bags.  Thankfully, they offered us a ride in a golf cart from there to our room.  Once we got to our room, our checked bags were already there as well.

We decided to check out the main pool after that.  It was a really fun pool area with lots of games going on for the kids, a poolside bar for the adults, and a nice water slide.  It was also conveniently close to the cafeteria style restaurant so we had an early dinner there after we dried off.  They had a runner box with a special deal for runners but I decided to just stick with a veggie flatbread.  It wasn't anything special, but it served it's purpose of fueling for the race the next morning.  And then, it was an early bed time for me.  I was asleep by 8pm but Mike went back to Disney Springs to explore a bit.

 

I woke up at 2:30 or so for the race the next morning and you can read more about my race experience here.  After the race, I had scheduled a brunch for us at the California Grill.  I was super excited about this brunch as I had read a lot of great reviews about it.  It's in Disney's Contemporary Resort and it has a wonderful view of the Magic Kingdom.  We got up to the restaurant and were greeted with mimosas (included in the price) as we were escorted to our table.  It felt really decadent to have drinks in hand before we were even seated!  They also had a non alcoholic offering of juice with a really pretty grape garnish.

 
A photo of the view since I was somehow so hungry I forgot to take photos of the food

Next, our waiter came and explained the brunch set up to us.  There was a buffet for the appetizers (which really could have been a meal on it's own) and you ordered an entree from the menu.  I'm happy to report that they were pretty accommodating to vegetarians.  For example, they had sushi on the buffet but made me special veggie sushi.  And they had deviled eggs with bacon on top, but offered to make me some without the bacon if I wanted.  The buffet also had a yogurt bar, fruit, several different salads, pastries, cheese and charcuterie, etc.  There were several choices of entrees and I asked if they could make me the frittata without meat, the answer was yes!  And for those that wanted, you could get bacon or sausage with your entree.  Our waiter also came by and offered us more mimosas as they were unlimited!  It was all soooo delicious but it was definitely a lot of food.  It was all included in the price, except if you wanted alcoholic drinks other than the mimosas.  Mike's eyes did get a bit wide when he saw the bill.  Oops, I guess I forgot to mention the price to him.  It was $80 per person ($48 for kids) so not a cheap meal, but worth it in my opinion.

 
A fun Star Wars Easter Egg display at the Contemporary Resort

We went outside to check out the view from their balcony and walked around the resort a bit to walk off some of the food.  Then we got a lyft back to our hotel for a nap.  After the nap, there was more pool time.  This time, we checked out the quiet pool that was right by our room and that was perfect.  There weren't a lot of people there so it felt pretty relaxing.  Afterward, we got ready and went back to Disney Springs for dinner at another new restaurant, Frontera Cocina.  We had some delicious Mexican food and also wandered around exploring more stores.  I love the art galleries they have down there.  We also stopped for drinks at the Indiana Jones themed Hangar Bar and grabbed cupcakes from sprinkles to eat back at the hotel.

 

 Monday was our departure day and also the only day we had to spend time at the park.  We chose the Magic Kingdom and were up bright and early so we could be there right at opening to maximize our time.  We went to the lobby to check out and drop off our bags and then went to the bus stop.  We had to wait around 15 minutes for a bus but we were the only ones on there, which was kind of nice.  We got to the park about 30 minutes before opening and they were letting people in but not letting people further than the castle.  So we waited there a while and then right at opening time, we were all let in to start hopping on rides.  We made pretty good use of our time and had pre-booked three fast passes so we got on a good amount of rides without having to wait too long for anything.  We had lunch at the Jungle Cruise themed Skipper's Cantina.  The food was really good with some nice veggie options.  We split the noodle salad to start and then I had the veggie curry as my entree.  I would definitely recommend this place to vegetarians looking for somewhere to eat in the Magic Kingdom, though Mike thought it was overpriced.  We hit a couple more rides, saw the parade, and then headed back to the hotel to get our bags and head to the airport.

 

So that was our whirlwind RunDisney weekend.  I wasn't sure at first if it made sense to just go down for a long weekend for a race but we made pretty good use of our time and had a lot of fun!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Perry update and weekly review

First things first, Perry is back home and doing well!  Poor guy had a urinary track block.  Apparently, this is fairly common with neutered male cats and chubby male cats and Perry fits both of those categories.  The vet had to put in an IV and a catheter and Perry had to spend several nights under observation.  Our vet isn't open 24 hours so we had to pick him up every evening and move him to the animal hospital, and then pick him up in the morning to take him back to the vet's office.

 

I left on Wednesday morning for some work travel and Perry didn't get home until Thursday, so I didn't even get to see him until I got back home from the trip Friday night.  But the good news is that he seems pretty much back to normal now!  He is going to have to eat a prescription diet from now on to minimize chances of this happening again.  We're mixing in the new food with the old food to transition him over.  The new food doesn't seem to be a big hit but hopefully he'll get used to it.

 

My parents were in town on Saturday so we met up with them in the evening to have dinner and see a show.  We ate at Ping Pong Dim Sum, which is delicious!  And it's nice for a group with food restrictions as things are marked pretty clearly for what's vegetarian, vegan or gluten free.  After dinner, we walked over to Ford' Theater to see Ragtime.  The show was amazing!  And it was really cool to see a show in such a historic theater.  They had a little museum about President Lincoln and the assassination in the basement, which was interesting.

 
I love that this race is right by the river, we got there early enough to do a short warm up

And then Sunday morning was the Semper Fi 5k.  I'll do a full write up later but we had a great time.  It's my 4th time doing this race so that's a pretty clear sign I enjoy it :)

I hope everyone else had a good week!  With all the picking up and dropping off for Perry and then the work trip, I didn't get much working out in but the next couple weeks should be much less hectic so fingers crossed. 

I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.


 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow

Monday, May 15, 2017

Weekly Review

I've been MIA for a bit but things have been a bit crazy at work.  And sadly, not much to report on the working out front.  I've gotten in a couple times at the gym and some strength training work outs but no real runs outside.  Allergies have been hitting me hard the past couple weeks for some reasons.  But here are some things I have been up to in the past couple weeks :)

I had plans with friends to go out dancing on the weekend.  But we're all old and tired and just didn't feel like making the effort.  So we moved on to Plan B which ended up being cheaper and more fun anyway!  We had people come over to our house, put on music, and danced in the basement. 

 

The Indigo Girls were performing with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops and we've had tickets for a while.  I love the Indigo Girls and it was amazing to see them perform with the symphony backing them.  The music was beautiful and it was a nice little evening out.  It helped that it was perfect weather and we got to enjoy the sunset from the Kennedy Center patio.

It was rainy this weekend and my allergies seemed to get worse every time I stepped outside.  So I made plans to meet with a friend at her local Y, which had an indoor track.  It's smaller than a standard track but it still worked well for some speed work.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed speed work!  I've got to get back to it.

 

Poor Perry.  He has to put up with me taking awkward photos of him and now he seems to be a bit sick.  He didn't eat this morning and that's very unusual for him.  So he's going to have to deal with a trip to the vet just to be on the safe side.

I just got an email yesterday that Race 13.1 is doing their Baltimore race in December again!  I really enjoyed this one last year and am thinking about signing up for this one again this year.  

This week is more work stuff with traveling for a conference Wednesday through Friday.  And my parents will be visiting town over the weekend, so it will be nice to see them.

Hope everyone has had a great couple weeks!  I'm looking forward to using some travel time to catch up on reading blogs :)  I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.


 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Disney World Star Wars Dark Side

I've been procrastinating on this race review a bit and I think it's partly because there's so much that I just don't know where to start.  But I'm just going to sit down and start writing, so this may end up a bit jumbled.  I'm splitting it up so today's post will just be about the race itself and I'll do a later post about the expo and the Disney trip in general.

 
My slowest half marathon to date

Race day starts bright and early.  Well, not bright since I had my alarm set to wake up at 2:30 am so it was still dark.  That's crazy early but race excitement made it feel not too bad.  I had set out everything I needed the night before in the bathroom so I could roll out of bed and go get ready in the bathroom without disrupting Mike.  I had also put all the stuff I wanted to carry (clif bar for breakfast, sunblock, etc.) in a bag the night before so I could just grab it and go once I was ready.  I was out the door by 2:50 or so to walk to the bus stop.  We were staying at Saratoga Springs Resort, which is a Disney hotel and that meant they provided bus transportation to all the race stuff.

The walk to the bus was pretty well lit.  And there was a bus waiting when I got to the stop.  It was pretty full and left shortly after I got on.  We got shuttled to the Magic Kingdom parking lot and there were already a good amount of people there.  There were a bunch of character photo ops set up so I hopped in a line that didn't look too long.

 

From memory, they had Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Captain Phasma, BB-8 and Kylo Ren.  BB-8 and Darth Vader seemed like the biggest lines.  They also had a backdrop of Jabba the Hut set up.  BB-8 and Darth Vader seemed to have the longest lines so I didn't get those.  But I did have time for 2 photos, Kylo Ren and Jabba the Hut, so I was pretty happy with that.  I probably could have gotten another one as well but at that point I decided to get off my feet and eat my breakfast.

 

So I found an empty bit of ground out of the way and where other people were sitting too.  I took my time eating my clif bar and applying sun block.  Oh yeah, I should mention that there was a heat advisory for this race and it was going to be hot and humid.  So I was careful with the sunblock because a burn was the last thing I needed.  Then I just had fun people watching and checking out the great costumes people had.

 
And they did announce the characters would be there after the race too

Around 4:15, I got up and walked over to the corrals.  I think they might have just opened up because there were a bunch of people walking over and I ended up near the beginning of Corral F.  The Corrals went from A to G but they were broken up into smaller waves.  I heard that corral F had 6 waves but I ended up in the first one which was great.  The race started right on time at 5:30 and I went off a couple minutes before 6am.  They had fireworks before each wave, and I loved it.  I loved the combination of the dark side music and the red and gold fireworks.  It really set the mood, especially because it was still dark.  And while we were running the first mile or so, later waves were going off so you could hear the fireworks behind us and see a red glow.  It kind of felt like we were running away from a space battle :)

  

The first 5 or so miles were on highway as we ran from the Magic Kingdom parking lot to the Animal Kingdom.  But they still made it fun.  There was one section where there were lasers effects and fight sounds and it seemed like we were in the middle of a battle.  I loved it (though I hate that they used smoke...no smoke effects in a race please!) and this felt like a fun effect toward the beginning of the race.  I think there were also a couple character stops, R2D2 and ewoks, in this section.  I don't remember where all the photo ops were but I remember there was also Chewbaca and characters from Star Wars Rebels later in the race.  There was also a photo op with the Endor speeders, the emperor's throne, and the Hoth Ice Cave.  They all had pretty long lines so I enjoyed from afar but didn't stop for a photo.

Next we went into Animal Kindom through the back.  The sun had already come up at this point so it was light out but it was overcast so the sun didn't feel too bad.  However, I had been hydrating a lot and had to go to the bathroom, which I usually try to avoid during races.  The lines for bathrooms had been really long so I think everyone was in the same shape.  But I lucked out and spotted a bathroom (A real one) in the park without a line.  Score!  I think it was just timing because there was a line when I got out so I guess I managed to just hit it during a lull.


When I got out, I kept running and then saw Heather.  It was great to be able to hang out with her for a bit and chat since we were both doing run/walk intervals.  I peeled off after a bit since I saw a water stop and had to refill my water bottle.

 

Approximately mile 7 to 10 was back on the highway.  As we exited the Animal Kingdom, there were some people dressed up in various Star Wars costumes.  I don't think they were Disney but instead members of a fan group who came out in costumes to support the runners.  There were also some spectators on this stretch with great signs.  I definitely appreciated the support at this point.  It was getting hotter by now and I changed my 2 minute running/30 second walking intervals to 30 second/30 second intervals.  I had no time goal for this one with the heat and was just planning to have fun.  I also started pouring water over my head at the water stops.

 

It was great to run into Hollywood Studios next.  We weren't in there very long at all but it was a nice change of scenery from the highway.  And a lot of cast members were out cheering, which was nice.  The parked also opened up as we were running down the main drag on our way out.  It was cool to hear the opening announcements and see the guests coming in, though some of them had very confused looks on their faces as they saw us running out of the park.



Next we ran on the path between Hollywood Studios and the Boardwalk resort area.  I actually really like this stretch.  There are a lot of spectators and I like the feel of the boardwalk on my feet as a change from the asphalt.  But it is a narrow section and can get pretty congested.  I didn't mind as I just went with the flow around me but I know that other people reported being frustrated with the congestion in this section.  The sun got brighter around now too so I put on my sunglasses and definitely started walking more and just running when I could.  Speaking of spectators, there were three runners who clearly finished fast but then came back to the Boardwalk to cheer the rest of us on.  They were awesome, so energetic, and much appreciated!

 

There were also more Star Wars fans here cheering us on in costume.  They were definitely a highlight of the race as well.

 

Finally, we ran into Epcot and had around a mile or so to run in the park.  I was definitely flagging at this point (as you can see from my splits) and just wanted to be done.  But the race was long for me (13.4 miles) and I just felt like the 13 mile marker would never come.  But of course, it finally did.  I managed to cross the finish line with a smile on my face!




After you crossed, you were kept moving down the chute.  They had water for everyone right away as well as cooling towels.  Those towels felt like the best thing ever.  We also got a banana and a snack box, and of course, the medal!

 

I kept walking through and got to the family reunion area, where Mike met me with a beer in hand :)  We shared the beer as we walked to the bus area and thankfully, a bus to our hotel was right there waiting.  We got on the bus, it waited a couple minutes until it was full, and then we went straight back to the hotel.

I thought the logistics were as smooth as they could be for a race of this size.  I had no problems with the bus transportation and while there were some spots that were crowded, it never felt too bad to me as I was just planning to go with the flow anyway.  The highways and Epcot felt pretty easy to maneuver in anyway.  It was just the boardwalk section and maybe parts of Animal Kingdom that felt overly congested to me.

 
Ready for a post-race brunch with my compression sleeves and medal

Whew!  That was a long review.  The summary is that I thought this was a great race and I loved the theming.  But I think this is definitely a race for Star Wars fans.  If you're not into Star Wars, this is probably not the race for you.  Especially because I'm assuming April in Orlando is almost always going to be hot and humid. But I came away from the race wanting to do it again at some point!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekly Review

I hope everyone had a great week!  Mine was pretty busy so it turns out it was a rest week for workouts as well.  Since I'm done with all my long races until the Fall, I figured last week was a good week to get some rest in and re-set for the Summer.  I sadly didn't manage to get my Star Wars Half recap up but am hoping to get it up on Wednesday this week.  But here is what I did do last week.

Monday - lots of walking at the Magic Kingdom!  We had a fun time and were there from open until around 5:30 when we had to leave for the airport.  I had more than 20,000 steps this day.

 

Tuesday - rest day.  I also had a work conference today and Wednesday so straight back into work mode.

Wednesday - rest day but I still managed to get around 10,000 steps because we had tickets to the Washington Wizards game downtown.  And I had some time to kill after work so I walked around a museum a bit.

 
National Portrait Gallery

 
Way up at the top but still a good time, and the Wizards won!

Thursday - 40 minutes at the gym on the elliptical

 

Friday - rest day

Saturday - Yoga, plus a lazy day at home.

 
Lazy days at home involve lots of kitty time

Sunday - 6 miles with a friend.  It wasn't too hot but it was a pretty humid morning so we took it easy and enjoyed catching up.

 

So that was my week!  I hope you all had a wonderful week too :)  I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.



 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow